11 Action Steps on How to Prevent a Stroke!

StrokeMany people look at a stroke as a brain problem.  In reality it’s a cardiovascular problem that can have deadly consequences.  For Americans, stroke is the number one cause of adult disability.  Thus, learning how to prevent a stroke will have a positive impact on decreasing its harmful effect on our community.

As pointed out in a previous article, it’s estimated that 750,000 Americans will experience a stroke this year.  Of this number, 160,000 will die.  The rest will forever have their lives changed in significant and profound ways.

For our African American friends, they are twice as likely to die from a stroke as Caucasians. The rate of having their first stroke is almost doubled.  One half of all African American women will die from either a stroke or heart disease.  For those with sickle cell anemia, 11% will have experienced a stroke by the age of 20.

All of this is pretty depressing until you understand that, according to the National Stroke Association,

“… 80% of strokes are preventable!”

Everyone is at risk for a stroke but everyone also has the power to reduce this risk.  This article will empower you with 11 action steps to help you learn how to prevent a stroke.  So, let’s get started.

Risk Factors For Stroke:  Uncontrollable vs. Controllable!

There are some uncontrollable risk factors for stroke like:  age, gender, race, family history and a previous stroke or TIA. Now, before we examine how to prevent a stroke, I would like to make some observations about two of these uncontrollable risk factors.

  • Age. Although you have no control over your chronological age, you do have the ability to reduce your biological age. One of my readers recently shared with me that he has been making some gradual changes in his eating and exercise habits.  These changes have resulted in him losing over 10 pounds.  He now has greater energy and stamina for his daily work activities as well as his recreational endeavors.  Even though his chronological age will keep moving forward, he has begun the process of improving his biological age.  Each person has the ability to make positive lifestyle changes that can significantly improve their overall health and wellness while reducing their risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.  The key is to concentrate on improving the health of your endothelial cells and their ability to produce nitric oxide.
  • Family History. If someone in your family has had a stroke, then you are at a higher risk for a stroke.  Part of this could be genetics.  Part of your family history could be lifestyle.  You have no control over the genetics but you certainly have control over your lifestyle. You have the power to change the eating, drinking, smoking, and lifestyle choices that contributed to your family member’s stroke.  The 11 action steps in this article will help you break this cycle.

Even though there are 5 uncontrollable risk factors, the good news is that there are 8 controllable risk factors that give you a high degree of control; control that can help you learn how to prevent a stroke!  They are:

  • Control High Blood Pressure.
  • Control Heart Disease especially Artial Fibrillation.
  • Stop Smoking.
  • Control Alcohol Consumption.
  • Control Your Cholesterol.
  • Control Your Diabetes.
  • Control Your Weight Through Diet, Exercise, and Nutrition.
  • Check for Other Circulatory Problems.

I talk about these 8 controllable risk factors in the article “African Americans and Stroke!” We will also take them up in the following 11 steps.

11 Steps That May Reduce Your Stroke Risk!

These 11 steps will help you learn how to prevent a stroke. Some of these steps will be pretty clear and easy to implement.  Others will require you to make a lifestyle choice.  It’s our daily choices that end up determining our overall health.

Step 1 – Go See A Qualified Physician. If you do not know what your blood pressure reading is, what your cholesterol level is, or where your blood sugar level is at, then you must get these benchmarks measured as soon as possible.  These are the big three in learning how to prevent a stroke. Also, have your physician check your heart and circulatory system especially the carotid arteries.

Step 2 – Make Sure Your Blood Pressure is under 120/80. Anything over 120/80 is of concern and anything over 140/90 is a red flag to take action. It’s the #1 risk factor for a stroke because high blood pressure increases your stroke risk 4-6 times.  This makes learning how to control your blood pressure a critical factor in learning how to prevent a stroke.

Step 3 – Make Sure Your Cholesterol Level is under 200. Anything over 200 is of concern and anything over 240 is a red flag to take action.

Step 4 – Make Sure You Are Not A Diabetic. Diabetes is not something to play around with.  Not only does it increase your risk for stroke but it also affects so many other organs in your body.  Most of the damage is due to oxidative stress on the endothelial cells and the resulting poor blood flow to the organs.

Step 5 – Control Your Weight. If you’re overweight by 30 pounds or more, then you need to make some positive changes in your eating patterns.  I’m not talking about going on a diet.  Diets don’t work! Most people have dieted their way to their current overweight condition.  The article “The Secret to Weight Loss! can assist you in implementing some simple keys; keys that can make a major impact on your weight and overall health.  Additionally, by controlling your weight you can also help lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol level, and better control your blood sugar.

Step 6 – Increase Your Fiber Intake! At best the typical American is only getting 50% of the needed fiber in their diet.  Proper fiber intake may reduce 3 of the risks for stroke:  cholesterol, diabetes, and overweight/obesity. This step is so important that I have prepared a special article entitled, “Fiber and Cholesterol Reduction!” There is also a guide entitled, “Fiber, Cholesterol and Other Heath Benefits!” This guide identifies foods that will add more fiber to your diet.  This is an important step in learning how to prevent stroke.

Step 7 – Increase Your Water Intake. Proper water intake is fundamental to good health and proper weight management.  Use this simple rule of thumb.   You need 8 ounce of water for every 15 pounds of body weight. Coke, coffee, and other doctored beverages don’t count.  Only pure water!

Step 8 – Stop Smoking! You know this is a nasty habit.  Not only does smoking affect your lungs but it also affects your heart, pulmonary arteries, liver and several other systems.  Once you stop smoking, your risk from this activity will drop significantly within two years.

If you’re a woman over 30 who smokes and takes high-estrogen birth-control pills your risk for a stroke is 22 times more likely than the average non-smoker!

Step 9 – Learn STR. Smile, Talk, Raise could save your life and the life of a loved one!  I’ve designed a special “Stroke Warning Sign – The STR Poster!” that you can download and print off. Share it with family, friends, and neighbors.  Ask your barber, hair stylist, and local merchant to display it in a prominent place for as many as possible to see.  Please help educate our entire community. Together our quick response could be the difference between life or death, permanent disability or significant recovery.

Step 10 – Utilize Integrative L-arginine / L-citrulline Supplementation. Your endothelial cells line all of your cardiovascular system.  They have a total surface volume equal to approximately 4 tennis courts.  They also have a tremendous influence over the health of the cardiovascular system.  Unfortunately, your endothelial cells are damaged by oxidative stresses caused by high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar levels.  This damage reduces their ability to properly produce nitric oxide which is critical to cardiovascular health.

By using a proven L-arginine / L-citrulline supplement you can help prevent and reverse this oxidative stress to the endothelial cells.  You can also improve their ability to produce nitric oxide which is the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system.  This is extremely important for the African American community.

Genetic research has uncovered a significant genetic variance that directly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in many people of African descent.  African Americans produce too much of an enzyme called arginase.  In the bloodstream, arginase destroys the amino acid L-Arginine so that it’s no longer available for the production of nitric oxide. This can lead to weakened or damaged blood vessels and significantly increase the risk for heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.

I recommend ProArgi-9 Plus since it has been clinical shown to improve the cardiovascular system and help to heal and reverse the damage to the endothelial cells allowing them to properly produce nitric oxide.

Step 11 – Control Your Alcohol Consumption. For most, moderate drinking doesn’t affect their risk for stroke.  “Moderate” drinking means limiting your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.  By definition, a “moderate” drink is 1.5 oz. of hard liquor, 4 oz. of wine, or 12 oz. of beer.  However, drinking more than 2 drinks per day may increase your stroke risk by 50%.

Conclusion

I hope these 11 Steps will be a direct benefit in helping you learn how to prevent a stroke. I’ve given you some very specific steps.  These steps can start you on the path towards reducing your risk for stroke while improving your overall health and wellness.  As you continue to read articles and gain information, you will be learning how to make other positive changes in your life.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology.  He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information contained in this article about stroke has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

African Americans and Cardiovascular Disease!

African American DoctorCardiovascular disease is the number one killer of people worldwide.  Unfortunately, it’s even worse for the African American community.  There are several reasons for this and hopefully this article will help begin the process of changing this sad reality.   To address these reasons I’ve broken this article into three parts:  The Bad News, Several Underlining Causes, and Steps to Decrease Your Risk! 

The Bad News! 

It’s important for you to understand the depth of cardiovascular disease confronting the African American community.  Below is a brief summary of the ailments that directly affect African Americans:  

  • Diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes has grown to epidemic proportions in the United States.  People with diabetes have a greater risk for stroke, heart disease and circulatory issues.  Most diabetes-related deaths are due to cardiovascular disease.  Twice as many African Americans will develop diabetes when compared to the Caucasian community. 
  • Erectile Dysfunction.  Erectile dysfunction affects 50% of the male population over the age 40 and is even greater in the African American community. 
  • Heart Disease.  African American women in the age range of 25-44 have a 2.5 times greater risk of coronary heart disease and African American men have a 1.5 times greater risk than the Caucasian community. 
  • High Blood Pressure.  The number one risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure, and 1 out of every 3 African Americans suffers from this ailment.  The American Heart Association estimates that 28% of African American adults and more than 66% of African Americans over the age of 60 have high blood pressure.  
  • High Cholesterol Levels.  High blood cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease.  Unfortunately 50% of African American men and 54% of women have too much cholesterol circulating in their blood stream. 
  • Sickle Cell Anemia.  It’s estimated that one in 12 African Americans has sickle cell trait and one out of every 400 births have sickle cell anemia. 
  • Stroke.  African Americans are twice as likely to die from a stroke as Caucasians.  The rate of having their first stroke is almost doubled that of Caucasians.  One half of all African American women will die from either a stroke or heart disease.  For those with sickle cell anemia, 11% will have experienced a stroke by the age of 20.  

That’s quite a list of ailments affecting African Americans.  If you look closely at all seven health issues you will see that the common denominator is your cardiovascular system.     

The key for reducing your health risk for these cardiovascular diseases is to make sure your cardiovascular system is as healthy as possible.  This article will provide several steps to address this but before we do you need to understand some of the underlining causes of why cardiovascular disease is so prevalent in the African American community. 

Several Underlining Causes! 

Within your cardiovascular system there is one particular essential amino acid, one critical signaling molecule, one critical cellular structure and one detrimental enzyme that directly impact its overall health.  They are: 

  • L-arginine – Key Essential Amino Acid
  • Nitric Oxide – Key Signaling Molecule
  • Endothelial Cells – Key Cellular Structure
  • Arginase – Key Detrimental Enzyme 

The first three keys of L-arginine, nitric oxide and endothelial cells are interrelated so we will examine them as a whole.  The endothelial cells form the interior lining of all your blood vessels.  These cells ultimately determine your cardiovascular health.  One function of these endothelial cells is to take the essential amino acid L-arginine and convert it into the signaling molecule nitric oxide.  Very simply, you couldn’t live without nitric oxide! 

Nitric oxide is the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system.  It regulates blood vessel tone and flexibility.  Its production is completely dependent upon the health of your endothelial cells and an adequate supply of the essential amino acid L-arginine.  Here are some of the benefits of nitric oxide: 

  • Nitric oxide regulates the muscle tone of blood vessels to have a major impact on controlling blood pressure.  This directly relates to high blood pressure.
  • Nitric oxide causes penile erections by dilating blood vessels.  This directly relates to erectile dysfunction.
  • Nitric oxide prevents blood platelet cells from grouping together in a clot.  This minimizes blockages in the blood vessels to reduce the risk for heart attacks, strokes and complications from sickle cell anemia.
  • Nitric oxide promotes vascular reparative mechanisms and is one of the keys to reversing atherosclerosis.  This helps to reduce the damage caused by high cholesterol levels and assists in preventing the vascular complications of diabetes. 

Nitric oxide is literally involved in all cells to help keep you fit and healthy.  It’s important to understand that this interrelationship between the endothelial cells, L-arginine and nitric oxide production is common for all races.  

What is not common is a genetic polymorphism inherent to the African American population.  This genetic polymorphism causes African Americans to have higher levels of an enzyme called arginase in their blood stream.  Arginase destroys L-arginine which is the main ingredient for creating nitric oxide in the body. 

For the African American community, nitric oxide production is compromised on both sides of the equation!

On the front end, the enzyme arginase destroys L-arginine which interferes with the production of nitric oxide.  On the back end, the health of your endothelial cells determines how much of the remaining L-arginine can be converted to nitric oxide.  Unfortunately, your endothelial cells are damaged by high blood pressure, high sugar levels, high cholesterol, smoking, and oxidative stress.  This damage reduces the production of nitric oxide which compounds the problem and increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Steps to Decrease Your Risk! 

Given the above information there are several important steps to decreasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.      

Step 1 – Monitor your blood pressure.  High blood pressure damages your endothelial cells.  If you do not know what your blood pressure is then you need to go to your doctor’s office, local pharmacy or health clinic and get your blood pressure taken.  If you have high blood pressure, then you need to take steps to bring it back into a normal range.  This is your first and most important step.  It’s so important that the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program was established to exclusively address the issue of high blood pressure on a national level.  For more information on participating barbershops, go to http://www.blackbarbershop.org/ .

Step 2 – Monitor your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  High sugar and cholesterol levels damage your endothelial cells.  Diet is extremely important for both of these areas.  One simple but highly effective step to stabilize your blood sugar levels and help your body naturally reduce its cholesterol levels is to increase your fiber intake.  Including dry beans or legumes into your diet is a quick and delicious way to increase your fiber intake. In fact studies have shown that consuming dry beans four times or more per week, compared with less than once a week, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 22 percent. 

Step 3 – Stop smoking!  Smoking damages your endothelial cells.  This is a nasty habit that is extremely hard to break.  Part of the process is having a motivation greater than the habit.  

If your very life isn’t motivation enough, then maybe for the men your sex life is! 

Your endothelial cells control your nitric oxide production.  Your nitric oxide levels control an erection.  No nitric oxide no sex!  Every puff on your cigarette is destroying your endothelial cells which lowers your nitric oxide level and reduces your chances of having good sex.  

Step 4 – Increase L-arginine intake!  In addition to protecting your endothelial cells, you need to get an adequate intake of the essential amino acid L-arginine which is found in foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, and other protein sources.  Most people take in enough L-arginine to meet basic bodily needs.  However, when your diet is poor and/or your stress level is high, then this essential amino acid will be lacking.  Couple this with the enzyme arginase that destroys L-arginine and the potential risk for cardiovascular disease is increased. 

Step 5 – Use L-citrulline to bypass Arginase!  Your body will convert the amino acid L-citrulline into L-arginine to help maintain its production of nitric oxide.  This process also helps to bypass the arginase enzyme since it has no effect on L-citrulline.  Having a good supply of L-citrulline provides the body with a 24 to 36 hour window in the production of nitric oxide.  This is important for all population groups but it’s critically important for African Americans especially those with sickle cell anemia.  Unfortunately, L-citrulline is not prevalent in most foods we eat.  Thus, supplementation is usually required. 

Step 6 – Consider ProArgi-9 Plus!  There is a clinically proven nutritional supplement called ProArgi-9 Plus which has the ability to bring in the proper balance of L-arginine and L-citrulline.  This product also combines other heart healthy ingredients to significantly improve the health of the endothelial cells and their ability to properly produce nitric oxide.  The most recent validation for this product is the remarkable results obtain for 33 congestive heart failure patients in the High Desert Heart Institute study.  

Conclusion

You have the power to directly improve the health of your endothelial cells to significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.  And, for those with sickle cell anemia, you can help to reduce your symptoms.  It all centers on helping your endothelial cells function optimally, with an above average supply of L-arginine, and a way to bypass the arginase enzyme so that nitric oxide is properly produced.  Improved production of nitric oxide is critical to helping African Americans decrease their risk for cardiovascular disease!

Together we can work to save a million lives! 

Dan Hammer 

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology.  He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.   
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information contain in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.